Korean Han and Nunchi

When Tim Ferriss interviewed Korean American artist Bobby Hundreds, Tim asked a stream of questions to find out why Korean entertainment is taking over the world. Tim was in search of a magic sauce, a concise explanation for the success of Parasite, Squid Game, and BTS.

To answer Tim’s questions, Bobby laid out some Korean words like Han and Nunchi to represent distinct characteristics of Korean culture. Hearing Tim’s excitement at these “exotic” words, I realized Koreanness is being defined by blue-check people outside Korea.

Trying to blanket the entire population of Korea with these meaningless terms is like claiming all Japanese still carry the samurai spirit. I don’t want Han and Nunchi to be the next Ikigai that has become a buzzword in countless self-help books.

Brooding upon the success of Korean entertainment won’t provide enlightening life lessons. The rise of Korean soft power is a complicated story that deserves more than “there’s something different about Koreans.”

If you’re curious about ‘Han,’ read this article by Minsoo Kang.